Our Collective Journal

October/November 2012

 

"I have often felt a motion of love to leave some hints

in writing of my experience of the goodness of God." 

--John Woolman  


Chapter 9

In following the Light, when were you led to

do something that was scary to think about? 

 

The Denial of St. Peter( Oil on Canvas), Caravaggio, circa 1610.   Peter is shown before a fireplace in the courtyard of the high priest, where a woman accuses him of being a follower of Christ. The pointing finger of the soldier and two pointing fingers of the woman allude to the three accusations and to Peter's three denials.

 

What Doesn't Bend

Buildings and bridges

are made to bend in the wind

to withstand the world,

that's what it takes

All that steel and stone

is no match for the air, my friend

what doesn't bend breaks

what doesn't bend breaks

- Ani de Franco

 

What doesn't bend breaks. As I contemplated how to tell this story, these lines kept going through my head. I grew up Southern Baptist, with what you could say was a very rigid world view, a very inflexible faith. Our faith... [more]

 
 

Storm Vision

“Storm Vision," detail of 2007 painting

— Margaret Kellermann


 
 

A Week in Haiti

In my sophomore year of high school, I joined a medical team to Haiti led by my mother. Throughout my life, my mother had been on many medical mission trips to third-world countries, but I had never gone with her.  My mother is a pediatrician and enjoys providing free medical care to people who live in poverty.  I had always wondered whether I would be able to go with her.

 

The medical team went to Haiti... [more]

 
 

I Am Tired of Taking Care of Death

In July, my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given six weeks to live.  I took leave from my job to care for him and those weeks were both a gift and a weight.  Fear often brought me to my knees; bent over in anger, sorrow and disbelief. Clinging to the lifelines of the friends, family and kind strangers kept me from sinking under a sea of sorrow. The doorbell would ring and... [more]

 
 

S.W.A.K.

I send letters.  And cards, and postcards, and manila parcels and care packages. This goes way back for me, a fact unearthed by the stack of letters and cards and drawings I have found in the attic that I left for or sent to my parents here and there from about age five.

 

Sending a letter is a real act of faith for me.  I have ripped open a letter and then resealed it after all... [more]

 
 

From Fear to Love

Twenty years ago after moving back home to the Pacific Northwest to start my pediatric practice, I had to drive through North Portland to see patients at Emanuel Hospital. I found myself locking my doors and feeling fearful as I drove through the neighboring streets. I had just witnessed the LA Riots and Rodney King atrocity in California, and had heard that North Portland was a dangerous area for shootings.  Soon afterward, I attended a... [more]

 
 

Intervention

I don’t understand lots of things about God; but this was a God-thing that happened to me.  On July 16, 2009, I drove across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, on mission for the Christian Peacemaker Teams.  By nine o’ clock that night in the rain I was rounding the ring freeway around Indianapolis, still headed east, and I was becoming afraid.  The last money I’d made had been in Oklahoma painting an outbuilding for Pastor Nagel. ... [more]

 
 

Interminable

On the threshold of the Universe,

at the cliff-edge

where the impossible becomes

real,

 

And with it, fear:

why me, at this time,

--and her?

 

Standing at a crossroads

of galaxies

of light years

of lifetimes

of synchronicity

of coincidence

of circumstance

of attachment

of existence

--and not.

 

And not.

Still.

 

Turning slowly against gravity,

heart in throat,

I accompany this one back

to reclaim a home among stars.

 

Back, through fear:

What was real?

Will I remember?

Will I not remember?

Will I ever be my whole self again?

 

I go as far as my weary body can.

My heart goes farther

yet,

and still.

 

Tears... [more]

 
 

The Great Wave

Whenever I feel led to do something that I’m afraid to try, images come to my mind of being adrift in a flimsy boat in a large ocean. My dad used to say, "It’s like being up a creek without a paddle.” The feeling is scary and it takes spiritual guidance, faith and a bit of courage to overcome the fear.
 
Since I was a little girl playing with... [more]

 
 

Standing for Silence

When I first became a Quaker, I attended a large unprogrammed meeting that some called a "popcorn meeting” because of the high level of vocal ministry and the way people seemed to “pop up” immediately after another person spoke, without leaving time for silence. 

 

In that meeting, it was customary to maintain silence for the first half hour, but after that, there was little silence.  The meeting was so large that someone always seemed to rise... [more]

 
 

Zen Mind Beginner's Mind: Grief, Fear and Awe

Luke 18:17:  “Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

 

On a Friday morning in June 2005, about 8 a.m., my life changed completely, without warning.  Matthew, my husband of 21 years, was an art teacher at Oregon Episcopal School and also a well-known potter and student of spirituality. That morning, he was killed instantly on his way to work by... [more]

 
 

Stories in this Chapter

 

What Doesn't Bend

 

Storm Vision

 

A Week in Haiti

 

I Am Tired of Taking Care of Death

 

S.W.A.K.

 

From Fear to Love

 

Intervention

 

Interminable

 

The Great Wave

 

Standing for Silence

 

Zen Mind Beginner's Mind: Grief, Fear and Awe